University students aim to clean up govt procurement



Four University of Johannesburg students, thinking that government’s Central Supplier Database (CSD) is not the only answer to the problem of tender fraud, have designed a system that aims to curb tender corruption in the state’s procurement system.

Recognising tender fraud ias a real problem in African governments, the students, calling themselves “Kriterion”, developed the project with the South African tender process in mind.

They examined the country’s standard bidding documentation and looked at how this can be extracted from being paper-based to computer-based, which will improve accountability.

The system reportedly takes government’s move to advertise tenders online a few steps further by eliminating the awarding of tenders to government officials who can be bribed and fall into corrupt activities.

Team member Chukwudi Obodoekwe told online news site IT Web that the system works from the advertising stage, right through to the evaluation of bids, using the complex criteria in algorithms published by the South African government, to the awarding of tenders and post-project or post-milestone delivery ratings.

“Our system has a bidding evaluation criterion, which is divided into a financial rating, security rating, technical and credit rating to evaluate the company or persons applying for the tender.”

Notably, the system also has a built-in a critical reality-check feature to allow industry experts to submit estimates of a realistic bid for a particular tender.

This comes after the introduction of a central database developed by government for service providers interested in state tenders. Then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene emphasised the need for a modern system that would be managed by Treasury with the aim of better facilitating procurement projects. “About R500-billion flows through the procurement systems at different spheres of government on an annual basis”, he said. It was important that these funds be spent wisely and effectively where they are needed.

“Corruption in the tender process is a very big problem in South Africa right now,” Kennedy Siguake – who is in charge of Kriterion’s mobile services – told Corruption Watch back in December.

“We are trying to make the whole process transparent to all parties involved in the bidding process,” he said, adding that corruption stands in the way of the country’s growth and development and it was the right time to develop a system that could remedy the defects of the current system.

Adapted from a post in corruptionwatch
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